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SciNews February 2011By Linda Pretorius 9 February 2011 | Categories: news
It’s a guy thing
Scientists have been pulling out their hair for a while to figure out why men lose theirs. But now a research team report in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, that they may have found the root of the problem. Follicles from bald and non-bold patches of scalp appear to have the same number of stem cells, but bald scalp has far fewer progenitor cells.
Progenitor cells are a more mature form of stem cells and are the driving force behind hair growth. This means that both scalp types have the potential to sprout hair, but because of faulty stem cell activation, it just never realises in bald scalp. The finding has given scientists a head start in developing cell-based therapy so that guys won’t have to leave their hats on forever.
You can’t have it all – even if you’re one of the most prolific predators of the sea. New research published in the journal Naturwissenshaften, reports that sharks are most likely colour blind. It’s surprising, though, seeing that their close relatives rays and chimaeras have quite a colourful view of the underwater world.
Scientists analysed the retinas of 17 shark species and found that the majority had only rod cells, which respond only to light and dark. Those that did have some colour-sensitive cells could respond to light of only a single wavelength. Together the results mean that sharks probably see everything in different shades of a single colour. The scientists hope that the findings will help to develop swimming gear with lower visual contrast to help make swimmers less attractive snacks.
You know that pleasurable chill when you hear a really good piece of music? Scientists say it’s all in your head. According to an article recently published in Nature Neuroscience, emotionally pleasing music activates our brains’ reward centre in the same way as more tangible pleasures like food and sex. Brain images showed that hearing good music, and even anticipating it, cause the feel-good hormone dopamine to surge through your brain.
Dopamine is known to be involved in activating the emotion centre of the brain in response to pleasures that are biologically important. The new findings thus suggest that dopamine is released even when the reward is abstract and could explain why music, which has no obvious survival benefit, has been so significant through human history.
Other interesting stuff:
Mindfulness meditation training changes brain structure in eight weeks.
Living microorganisms introduced into video games.
Beamed thermal propulsion might power low-cost space travel using lasers.
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